How to Pick the Best Trucking School near Buckeye Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Buckeye AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Buckeye residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Buckeye AZ, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Buckeye AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Buckeye AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Buckeye AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Buckeye AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Buckeye AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Buckeye AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Buckeye AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Buckeye AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Buckeye AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Best Buckeye AZ CDL Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Buckeye AZ.